Guide to the Global Specialty Coffee Expo

Guide to the Global Specialty Coffee Expo

Usually held in late April each year, the world’s largest specialty coffee event, the Global Specialty Coffee Expo, will occur in Portland, Oregon.

Roasters, coffee professionals, and enthusiasts worldwide will gather in Oregon to explore all aspects of specialty coffee.

This is a valuable opportunity for coffee roasters to learn more about coffee sourcing and production, network with professionals and suppliers, explore emerging products and technologies and taste coffee from around the world.

Specialty coffee has gained immense traction over the past few decades, becoming one of the industry’s most profitable and important sectors.

For those unfamiliar with coffee terminology, specialty coffee is coffee that has been evaluated and graded by a coffee cupping panel according to criteria such as aroma, flavor, acidity, body, and aftertaste.

This coffee is often organically produced and processed with utmost care to ensure quality and consistency in flavor.

The Global Specialty Coffee Expo has been held annually since 1988, when the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) first organized the event.

Since then, the Expo has become one of the world’s most important specialty coffee events, with thousands of attendees from across the globe.

From educational seminars and workshops to tasting sessions and technology showcases, the event presents an unparalleled opportunity for roasters and retailers to learn, network, and explore the latest trends in specialty coffee.

Attending the Expo is a valuable investment for any coffee roaster who wants to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and advancements in specialty coffee.

As such, I have created this guide to help roasters make the most out of their experience at the Expo.

Pre-Expo Preparation

Global Specialty Coffee Expo 2023: Brown coffee beans

Before embarking on your Expo journey, you must prepare ahead of time.

First, you must register for the event. This can be done online and requires a few steps to complete.

You’ll need to provide the type of registration you wish to purchase (attended, group, volunteer, press, or exhibitor registration), your contact information, and payment details.

Once you’ve registered, begin researching the exhibitors attending the Expo. This crucial step helps you create a well-planned itinerary and maximize your time at the Expo.

A person taking down notes with notebooks on a brown wooden table next to a ceramic mug

Create a schedule of events and seminars to attend. This will help you organize your time and ensure you don’t miss the most important events.

Finally, make travel arrangements. If you’re traveling from a long distance, consider booking accommodations such as hotels or Airbnb in advance so that your stay is comfortable and convenient.

Navigating the Expo Floor

People walking in the hallway

When you arrive at the Expo, the first step is to pick up your badge and any additional materials. This will give you access to all the Expo’s events and seminars.

Once you have your materials, it’s time to explore the show floor.

Here, you’ll find exhibitors featuring coffee equipment, brewing aids, tasting supplies, educational materials, and other products related to specialty coffee shops.

The Exhibition is quite large and can be overwhelming. To help you navigate the exhibit floor and maximize your visit, here are a few tips:

  • Plan your route ahead of time. Map out the booths you want to visit, and make sure to take note of any events or seminars that might be happening nearby.
  • Take your time, and don’t rush from one booth to the next. Spend some time talking to exhibitors, exploring products, and tasting coffees.
  • Network with other attendees and exhibitors. This is an excellent opportunity to meet industry masters and make valuable connections.
  • If the show floor becomes too crowded, take a break in one of the many cafes or lounges around the Expo.

Attending Seminars and Workshops

A crowd of people sitting on chairs in a room while taking notes

The Global Specialty Coffee Expo offers many educational seminars and workshops.

These sessions provide valuable information on the latest trends, innovations, and challenges in the specialty coffee industry.

Attending these seminars and workshops is a great way to stay informed about the latest developments in the specialty coffee world and network with other attendees.

To get the most out of these educational experiences, here are a few tips:

  • Research the sessions you are interested in attending. Read up on the topics, speakers, and topics to be discussed.
  • Take notes, and bring a notebook or other recording device to capture key session points.
  • Be proactive in asking questions and engaging with the speakers.
  • Network with other attendees and take advantage of any networking opportunities offered at the session.
  • Follow up with the speakers after the session. This is a great way to build relationships and gain insight into the discussed topics.
  • Remember to stay hydrated, eat regularly, and take breaks. It can be easy to become overwhelmed at a seminar or workshop without caring for yourself.

Tasting and Evaluating Coffees

You’ll have many opportunities to taste and evaluate coffees during the Expo.

This can be done formally at cupping sessions or informally at tasting bars.

Cupping sessions are highly structured events that allow you to compare coffees side-by-side.

This is an excellent way to hone your tasting skills and assess coffee objectively.

A man in a brown jacket drinking from a white ceramic mug

Tasting bars are less formal events where you can sample different types of coffee and get a more in-depth understanding of the flavor profiles.

They are a great opportunity to expand your palate and discover new coffees.

If you’re new to evaluating coffee, the following tips may be helpful:

  • Taste with a clean palate. Avoid eating or drinking anything for at least 30 minutes before tasting.
  • Take your time and savor each sip. Pay attention to the nuances of each coffee’s flavor profile, and evaluate it based on its sweetness, acidity, body, and aroma.
  • Take notes to capture the coffee’s flavor profiles and other relevant information.
  • Compare coffees side-by-side and make notes on the differences. This will help you recognize patterns and perfect your tasting skills over time.
  • Don’t forget to ask questions and engage with the baristas or roasters. Experienced professionals can provide valuable insight into the coffees and teach you more about the craft of specialty coffee.
  • Use tasting experiences to broaden your knowledge and develop relationships with industry professionals.

Exploring New Products and Technologies

Exhibitors will showcase their latest products and technologies at the Global Specialty Coffee Expo.

Taking the time to explore these innovations is essential for staying up-to-date with industry trends.

A hand of a person sampling brown coffee beans

You can expect various products, from roasting and grinding machines to coffee brewing tools and specialty ingredients.

The SCA workshops and seminars will also provide insight into the latest research and development in specialty coffee.

Take advantage of this opportunity to discover new products and technologies to help you create better coffee.

Don’t forget to sign up for workshops and seminars that cover relevant topics so you can stay informed of the latest developments.

Building Relationships and Partnerships

Three men sitting in front of a table having a conversation

If you’re a retailer, wholesaler, or roaster looking to expand your operations, the Expo is a great opportunity to build relationships and partnerships in the industry.

With over 500 exhibitors and thousands of attendees, you’ll have plenty of chances to meet potential partners and customers.

To network and make valuable connections:

  • Visit exhibitor booths, attend seminars and workshops, or join networking events.
  • Bring a list of questions in advance, and be prepared to answer any questions.
  • Follow up after the session with anyone you have connected with.
  • Focus on building relationships rather than strictly pursuing business opportunities.
  • Engage with potential partners and ask questions to determine if they may be a good match for you.
  • Be mindful of your body language. Be courteous and open to new ideas
  • Ensure any partnership or collaboration is mutually beneficial, not just a one-way street.
  • Be patient. Building relationships takes time and effort, but the rewards will be worth it.

Key Takeaways: What to Expect at the World Coffee Expo

The Global Specialty Coffee Expo will provide attendees with an unparalleled opportunity to discover, explore and learn about the specialty coffee industry.

Whether you’re a coffee enthusiast or a professional looking to expand your business, the Exhibition has something for all.

Attendees can look forward to engaging workshops, inspiring speakers, a vibrant marketing area, and various competitions.

Some highlights include the Best New Product Competition and the Coffee Design Awards.

The event will also feature trade fairs, including the Roaster Village and Cupping Exchange.

At the Roaster Village, you’ll have the chance to taste and explore the latest coffees from some of the world’s leading roasters.

Regardless of your experience level, attending the Global Specialty Coffee Expo will be a great opportunity to expand your industry knowledge and network with other coffee experts.

With a comprehensive exhibition and networking program, the event is sure to be an incredible experience.

Don’t miss the opportunity to learn from the best, explore new products, and exhibit your brand. See you there!

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